Dance of the Butterflies

Been a while since I wrote here. I’ll try to do better from here on.

This past week since the death of my dear friend Diane Marcou has been a time of  mourning and inability to write. I just haven’t been able to get my creative juices flowing. I needed time for grieving, and I don’t regret the lost time. But I do need to get back to working now. And, amazingly, I got unexpected help.

I have always gotten inspiration from dreams. From my early childhood I have had vivid “story” dreams, dreams in which I was not a character. Of course I fully understand that all the characters in our dreams come from the dreamer’s subconscious and represent aspects of the dreamer’s character, but in these story dreams my role has usually been that of an observer, rather than a participant. It was as though I were reading a novel or watching a movie.  Almost every bit of fiction I’ve written came to some extent from or is in some part based on a dream.

Lately, as I’ve grown older, the story dreams have become fewer. My dreams generally deal with some aspect of my life and do not tell a story. I have feared that without that inspiration I would lack story ideas. Then two nights ago I had a dream that, while not a story dream, did contain the germ of an idea, only a single line, really, but one that was
pregnant with possibility. I awoke feeling that my dry period was ended, and I felt relieved and refreshed. Although Diane did not figure in my dream, it was almost as if she had said to me, “Okay, it’s time for you to get back to work, and here’s a little something to get you started.”

I lay in bed thinking about this, and fell into a waking dream—that state between being asleep and being fully awake, when the subconscious is especially close to the surface. In that waking dream I saw two rooms, side by side, with an open window in the wall between them. I saw them as though the front wall had been cut away, allowing a view of the interior of the rooms.

The room on the left is brightly lit, and a file clerk sits on the floor in the center of the room. The walls of the room are covered with narrow file drawers. The clerk is receiving printed papers, some short memos, others long treatises. She reviews each and places it carefully into a file drawer from which it can be readily accessed when needed.

The room on the right is dimly lit. No person is in it. It is filled with crumpled bits of gray paper, looking like something someone had crushed and thrown into the trash. A cyclonic wind fills the room, and the crushed wads of paper are caught up in it and fly around the room in wild and erratic motion.

Occasionally one of the crumpled papers flies through the open window into the lefthand room. There it is caught by the file  clerk, who smooths it out and reads it and with a smile places it into one of the file drawers.

The two rooms represent the left-brain/right-brain idea, which is an over-simplification but helpful, nonetheless, in which the right brain is the creative, intuitive side and the left brain is the analytical, logical side. In my mental picture the file clerk in the lefthand
room is the conscious mind, which organizes and stores information for use in
practical ways. The crumpled papers in the righthand room are the haphazard
snatches of thoughts and dreams and intuitions that come to us in unexpected
moments when we allow our subconscious to intrude into our conscious thoughts.
The random papers that fly through the open window represent the cross-over
that brings those dreams or sudden impressions into the light of reason, where
they can be put to use in creative but organized ways.

But there is more to the waking dream. On the side wall of the righthand room, opposite the window between the rooms, there is a door. It is ajar, and some of the crumpled papers fly out from it, while others  fly in from outside. I go into the room and peer out through the door. There I see the same vision of papers flying about, but there is, off to one side, a
column of bright light. And some of the papers, both from within the room and without, fly up into that illuminated stream. In it they transform into beautiful butterflies of all colors and sizes! And in the stream they dance.

This outside area represents to me both the collective subconscious and the collective consciousness. Ideas come into our minds from some source without, but they also pass from us through  our creative endeavors into the outer world, into the “public domain,” where, as works of art of any type they add to the splendor of the butterflies’ dance: the accumulation of culture that brings wonder and hope and beauty to human life.

This picture pleases me. I hope it may mean something to some of you. It is, like any analogy, imperfect and not truly adequate to convey what I mean it to express, but it brought me peace and a fresh resolve to set my butterflies free to dance in the light.

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About E. Rose Sabin

Fantasy and science fiction author.
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3 Responses to Dance of the Butterflies

  1. Peggy Sanders says:

    This trumps every analogy I’ve ever read or invented myself–how wonderful to think Diane is whispering in your ear even now. Kudos–truly original.

  2. Joyce Levesque says:

    Elenora, that is beautiful. A beautiful tribute to Diane and a beautiful tribute your heart and brain – both sides of it.

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